GTU to resume nationwide teachers’ strike this week

The Guyana Teachers’ Union (GTU) has called on all teachers to support a nationwide strike action on Thursday. Teachers had only returned to the classrooms on March 6, after striking for some four weeks.
When the strike had ended, the Union and the government were engaged in discussions on issues affecting teachers.
However, those talks have reportedly since broken down, according to the Union’s General Secretary Coretta McDonald.
According to McDonald, the previous strike action for better pay was never over but halted to facilitate collective bargaining between the Ministry of Education (MOE) and the Union.
She told this publication that the decision to resume the strike is because the union believes there is nothing forthcoming from the Government as it relates to collective bargaining.
It was also disclosed that the union views the government’s alleged refusal to engage in collective bargaining as “an insult to the integrity of all teachers in Guyana”.
This time around, McDonald said the teachers are prepared to strike for as long as it takes for their demands to be met.
The government has already addressed over 20 issues affecting teachers, aimed at improving their working conditions and overall welfare.
In fact, at the time of the last strike, President Dr. Irfaan Ali had reminded that he has already met with teachers across the country and outlined the government’s plan to improve their livelihoods.
Moreover, Vice President Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo had calculated that at the end of the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government’s first term in office, graduate teachers would have benefited from salary increases amounting to nearly 50 per cent.
In March Jagdeo had said that the GTU had walked away from a three-year proposal submitted by the Government for salary increases from 2024 onwards. Government has already said it is unfair for the GTU to request pay hikes for years when teachers were at home during the COVID-19 pandemic; those years are from 2020 to 2022; and that the budget cannot accommodate a retroactive increase that spans several years. Jagdeo pointed out that the 25 per cent retroactive increase being demanded by the GTU is unacceptable. In addition to the 25 per cent pay hike, the GTU also wants Government to address a two per cent increase from 2017 and 2018.
Meanwhile, as teachers prepare to strike again, there is a legal matter still to be resolved.
On April 19, the High Court had ruled in favour of the GTU, and stipulated that teachers’ salaries should not be deducted following their participation in the recent strike.
The High Court had also ruled against government’s decision to discontinue the deduction of union dues from the salaries of teachers for the GTU.
This came on the heels of the Guyana Government’s refusal to negotiate for that salary increases for the period December 2021 to 2023, but instead was ready to do so for a multi-year agreement starting 2024.
Attorney General Anil Nandlall has since said government will appeal the ruling at the level of the Guyana Court of Appeal, with the likelihood that the case will go to the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), Guyana’s final court of appeal.
Efforts on Tuesday to contact Education Ministry officials for a comment on this new position by the GTU proved futile. (G1)